Northwest Indiana is filled from border to border with what makes the Region home – local diners, microbreweries, county fairs, and believe it or not, its outdoors.
Personally, being someone that aspires to see as much nature that the various parts of the world has to offer, having a place to hike and breathe in some fresh air is significantly important to me. From the south and northwest suburbs to different spots in Northwest Indiana, exploration of forest preserves, parks, and the lakeshore has been a necessary action in order to find the spots with a pretty view.
Here are the top places in Northwest Indiana that I’ve either checked out on my own or have come to discover when spending time outdoors with other nature-loving friends!
Lemon Lake – Cedar Lake
This one’s great for anyone, including the whole family. The park includes a large and creative playground for kids, hoops for shooting basketball, a gated court to play tennis, and a sandpit to play volleyball in. In addition to that, one mile of paved trail wraps around the lake, offering additional trails that branch off into the Lemon Lake’s wooded areas for hiking. Overall, the park encompasses a total of 403 acres – lots of open space to explore in and outside of the woods.
Lemon Lake is also dog-friendly, as long as the pooches are leashed outside of Dogwood Run, their off-leash dog facility. Another reason why many people choose to spend time at the park is the fact that they can fish without a license or paying a fee, whether off of Lemon Lake’s fishing pier or on the side of the paved trail.
While the park is great for jogging, walking, hiking, and fishing, what Lemon Lake is certainly known for in the area is its six 18-hole disc golf courses. Courses run anywhere between novice and expert levels, bringing in many groups and individuals to play. Whichever way that you might work up an appetite during your visit, there are a number of pavilions with an attached grill, perfect for a picnic date, celebrations, or even a lunch break between disc golf courses.
Rogers-Lakewood Park – Valparaiso
Rogers-Lakewood is another favorite spot for locals to throw their discs, having a total of 24 holes to play, some of them even having a view that is sure to please. Having only visited this park a few times with some of friends that frolf as a hobby, I had no idea about all their other outdoor recreation!
Just like Lemon Lake, you can also fish at this park, but another amenity they offer is row boating and paddle boating, another way fun way to be outside and enjoy the water scenery without getting wet. Something unique that Rogers-Lakewood brings to its visitors is the Flounders Skate Park, 15,000 square feet of ramps, grind rails, a jump box, and pyramid.
Stoney Run County Park – Hebron
Similar to Lemon Lake and Rogers-Lakewood, Stoney Run County Park is filled with outdoor recreation. However, what Stoney Run also offers is eight miles worth of hiking trails through its woods, allowing for both hikers and those on horseback to travel their trails.
You can really get into nature at this park, whether it’s smelling the blooming wildflowers or waving to any deer, which aren’t uncommon to come across in these woods. With 316 acres of land, Stoney Run’s open meadows and woods are a fantastic place to adventure in for a day, or only a couple hours if that’s a preference.
Ever try slack-lining? The open space here also makes for a great spot to slack between sturdy trees!
Portage Imagination Glen Park – Portage
Portage Imagination Glen Park, though I’ve heard is awesome, is somewhere I haven’t been to yet. Hearing that the park includes a large nature preserve might just be enough to persuade me to visit the park myself this upcoming spring. If that’s not enough, then the fact that Imagination Glen has a 10-mile outback mountain bike trail will definitely convince me to go check it out.
Sunset Hill Farm Park – Valparaiso
Did you know there is a campground in Valparaiso? Neither did I! This park makes for another great outdoors trip that I have not yet done myself but knowing that there’s a camping option, along with their hiking trails, could quickly change that.